Prior to February 2006, if you wanted a camera with a long lens, you had to get something like this. But on the 14th of that month, Panasonic introduced the world's first compact travel zoom camera with optical image stabilization: the Lumix DMC-TZ1, which had a 10x 35-350mm equivalent lens.  Where even relatively compact long-zooms like the Lumix DMC-FZ5 wouldn't fit in an average-sized pocket with its dimensions of 108 x 68 x 85mm, the TZ1 came in at 112 x 58 x 40mm. Naturally, it was also lighter: 250 g, compared to the FZ5's 326 g.

So how did Panasonic manage to squeeze a 10x, F2.8-4.2 lens into a body 40mm thick? The answer is folded optics. As you can see from the cutaway above, light comes through the front elements, hits a prism and then travels through the rest of the elements before hitting the camera's 1/2.5", 5 Megapixel sensor. In the 'folded' section of the lens is where you'll also find Panasonic's 'MEGA OIS' image stabilization system.

Panasonic bragged about the DMC-TZ1's 'fiercely fast' linear autofocus system which, at the time, had the best response times of any camera in its class, at least according to the company.

So what other features did the TZ1 bring to the table? Its 2.5", 207k-dot LCD had a 'high-angle' function, which really did make the screen visible when holding it above your head (this is before articulating LCDs were a big thing).

The camera had numerous scene modes, including one for shooting out of airplane windows. If I recall, you'd get a warning similar to 'When using the camera, follow all instructions from the cabin crew' whenever you switched to that mode. Another scene mode of note was 'high sensitivity', which dropped the resolution to 3MP and increased the ISO to 800. As you'd expect, the results weren't very good. (Overall image quality was good for its day, though noisy.) For the videophile, the DMC-TZ1 captured VGA clips at 30 fps.

Panasonic really broke new ground with the Lumix TZ1, and continues to crank out compact travel zooms to this day (with longer lenses and more pixels, naturally). They may not be big sellers anymore, but there's something to be said for a camera that covers all the bases for a family vacation.

Read our review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1